The Maine Objection

So, Maine has gone ahead and repealed its same-sex marriage law. Perhaps this is the time to stop and think about this, ask ourselves why people are so vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage in the first place. I think there’s an easy answer – religion. But maybe my meaning isn’t what you think.

I propose that most people, and especially those opposed to same-sex marriage, think of marriage as an essentially religious event. And they see the support of same-sex marriage as getting the government involved in their religion. They forsee government telling them who they have to allow to marry in their church, and it makes them crazy. And you know what? They’re right.

Marriage is a religious event masquerading as a civil event, or rather as a series of civil events. It’s a financial and legal joining of two households, a simple substitute for a will, medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney, a joint custody agreement (in case of children) and so on. I’m sure there’s a list somewhere online that details all of the things marriage represents in law. My point is: it shouldn’t.

Perhaps marriage should be left up to the churches. They could decide who can get married, how they can get married and whether the marriage is under any circumstances allowed to end before the end of time. But (and here’s the important part) it wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) have any force or meaning in civil law. Just as baptism/christening doesn’t (and shouldn’t) determine what your legal name is. Domestic partnerships would take up the legal end of things.

What is the possible objection? It provides freedom of religion without making anyone a second class citizen. Government still gets to push around the same people it was pushing around before, only religion doesn’t tie it’s hands. Religions get to set clear rules… or byzantine structures that can only be interpreted by the chosen initiates – as they wish. And we, the people, can get on with our lives, and stop butting into everyone elses. Pretty much the only people who will see this as a loss are those who think Christian Morality (read as /their/ morality) ought to have force of law for all people. And quite frankly, I’ve had about enough of their bullshit.

There’d be a lot of legal issues to get straight before it could be put in place of course. For instance, what if you get married in church, but do not put a domestic partnership in place to support it? How will existing marriages be handled? What if you have an existing state marriage, but object to the domestic partnership on philosophical or religious grounds? Do you have to accept it? I’ll leave all of that to the lawyers.

And for the future, I forsee arguments about multiple domestic partnerships, group domestic partnerships, and customized domestic partnerships (with prohibitions on certain behaviors (sex ouside of partnership, smoking, drug use)? financial restrictions? expiration dates? Lotsa fun. The lawyers should love it, too! See, everybody wins.

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